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The silence of our Lord upon the subject of Anti
christ accounied for.--His allusions to antichristianism being prophetic, were designed to be explained by time and events. The solution of some peculiarities in our Lord's conduct, upon the supposition of an intended allusion to the Marian IDOLATRI.-And of some difficulties in his preceptive discourses, by a reference to the sur perstitious abuses of Popery,
BEFORE I proceed in any further reflections upon the prophecies, that are applicable to the acknowledged corruptions and great degeneracy of the church of Rome, from the original truth and simplicity of the gospel, it may be necessary to advert to an obvious objection that
may be offered against admitting such an interpretation of them. It will be thought a matter of some difficulty, perhaps,
if this application be well founded, to account for the apparent silence of our blessed Lord bimself, upon a subject in which the interests of his church were to be so deeply involved. For Antichrist, whoever he be, is not an insignificant adversary, or beneath the notice of the master of the house, whose servants were to be so roughly handled by him, and that for so long a period as 1260 years. .
But this difficulty is rather imaginary than real. There is a suitable time for all things, and our blessed Lord, in the fulness of his divine wisdom forbore to mention many things of equal importance with this, for various reasons, and particularly that principal one; that the minds of his disciples were not yet prepared to receive such communications in any other than an allusive and parabolical way.
*_“I have yet many things (which I could wish) to say
cannot bear them now ; howbeit, when be, the Spirit of truth is, come, he will guide you into all
** That this was his manner, sce John xi. 14 ; x, 24 ; xvi, 25, 29,
The wisdom of Christ was in such instances to the full as manifestly evinced in his withholding communications that were improperly required of him, as by those which he personally and explicitly revealed ; and the crafty enemies which continually lay upon the watch to urge him to speak hastily upon difficult questions, that he might drop some unguarded expression, were as much disappointed by his forbearance, as when he spoke they were put to shame by his answers.
That he should never have said any thing very expressly of the latter times, and of the GREAT APOSTACY which was to come, is not at all to be wondered at, when we consider the circumstances of the times, the hatred of the jews, the jealousy of the romans; and the fears and weakness of the first believers. Owing to their national prejudices, his own disciples were very slow of belief, and very
reluctant to receive some of the dis
John xvi. 12.
agreeable truths which absolute necessity required him to communicate to them.* Yet as they were near at hand, their minds must by frequent mention of these things, be won by degrees to the belief of them. “ that when they should come to pass, they might remember that he had told them of them," and not be inclined, after the ill example of too many, to cast off their faith in him all together, when they should find it beset with difficulties and dangers, of which they had not been before apprised, and encouraged to the endurance of them by the most infallible assurance of a
We find them readily acknowledging their own want of faith and christian fortitude during his continuance with them. They could not bear to hear him delivering those humilia ating doctrines of his own approaching passion and death, and the personal sufferings they themselves must expect to meet with, by a constant adherence to his persecuted
* Matt, xvi. 21 ;-Mark viii. 31, &c.
doctrine and cause. He had occasion to say to even the most zealous of them, “will
ye also go away?"--and sometimes with a transient anger at the selfish and worldly spirit which then actuated them, to reproach them, " how long shall I be with you, bow long shall I suffer you.?” when he found their minds occupied with idle contentions about precedency, and greatness in his promised kingdom ; which they still expected according to the glowing descriptions of its state in the glorious millennium, as delivered by the prophets. Even after he had actually suffered all these things, and was so risen again as he had foretold, he had occasion to offer various means of conviction, before he could subdue their incredulity ; saying to them, “O fools ! and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ thus to have suffered ?"-is not this the sense of your own prophets, and the spiritual meaning of innumerable types, and of the whole structure of your law, and of the ordinances of your religion? — Then he, for the first time, fully opened their understandings to